Fr. Reid Involved in ETA Ceasefire Moves

Fr. Alex Reid has been on the receiving end of many jibes by Slugger contributors in the past, but his involvement over many years in helping to bring the British government and Irish republicans into dialogue and ultimately out of conflict can’t be questioned. Therefore, his involvement in the process of encouraging ETA to publicly declare an end to their armed campaign will come as no surprise to many people and perhaps may even lead his detractors to acknowledge his credentials as a peacemaker- though, somehow, I doubt it…

  • Pete Baker

    I was more taken by the Guardian report on that statement by ETA,

    The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, said he was reacting with “caution” to the statement.

    after noting that –

    “The aim of [the ceasefire] is to promote a democratic process in the Basque country and to build a new framework in which our rights as a people will be recognised,” the statement [by ETA] said.

    The separatist organisation also called on the Spanish and French authorities to “respond positively” to the ceasefire and “leave their repressive ways behind”.

    and this previous report, also in the Guardian, which also notes Alec Reid’s involvment

    A key figure in the attempts to prevent the peace process from collapsing is an Irish Catholic priest, Alec Reid, who played a crucial role in the negotiations ahead of the IRA ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement. ‘We’re witnessing the equivalent of plane turbulence, almost inevitable when you’re moving towards a resolution,’ said Reid, sipping coffee in a Bilbao hotel near the Guggenheim Museum. ‘We cannot miss this historic opportunity to achieve peace, but Eta won’t buy a pig in a poke. It needs to know how the political negotiating table will look, who’ll participate, how will voting take place, will the Spanish government accept the outcome – then they need to know when it will happen. Once all this is made public, Eta will stop.’

    Critics are unconvinced that Eta-Batasuna will reach a compromise, despite Batasuna’s commitment in November 2004 to ‘exclusively use political and democratic means to search for a democratic solution’, which was backed by Eta.

    And from the first linked report –

    It [ETA] is classed as a terrorist group by the US and EU, and had previously announced a ceasefire in September 1998. However, that was rescinded in December the following year.

    Too early for rejoicing in the streets, despite the international pressure on ETA et al.

  • missfitz

    I dont know the extent of his involvement in this, but Fr Reid strikes me as a genuine man of peace. A modest man who wishes no credit or acclaim for his interventions, but with very noble and genuine goals.

  • Pete Baker

    But one who has been giving interviews at every request, missfitz…

    Not that I begrudge him that.. but the situation is, in reality, that such terrorism has led the organisations involved into a cul-de-sac.

    As, again, the Guardian report points out –

    Many in Spain believe the Madrid bombings of March 11 2004, carried out by Islamist extremists, effectively finished Eta’s tactics. Popular revulsion over terrorism has made fatal violence politically unthinkable.

    Police action before the bombings saw hundreds of Eta members imprisoned and several attempted bombings foiled.

    Last month, tens of thousands of people marched through Madrid, urging the government not to begin peace talks. They called for Eta to be combated through tough police action.

    Not to mention September 11th..

  • missfitz

    Well Pete, he was relatively interview shy about his role over here, notwithstanding his dreadful comments last year.

    As to bringing terrorist organisations into a cul de sac, well perhaps that isnt the worst place to go pro tem. The argument would ensue that where does one go from a cul de sac, or do you start to tear yourself apart.

    Look, perhaps the bottom line is that there is no such thing as a perfect peace. You can lead, drive and cajole the majority of people into a consensus state, but in Spain as in Ireland, you retain a small minority whose idea of nationalism can never be satisfied.

    None of us have the gift of foretelling the future. These are lessons that we cannot take from the past as we are reaching a new endgame. ETA has been stalled, and as such perhaps they will lose some steam, some anger and some radicalism. Perhaps they will be left with a toothless entity that can be managed. Perhaps the cul de sac is enough?

    Anyway, “continuity eta” doesnt have a ring about it……

  • Pete Baker

    “The argument would ensue that where does one go from a cul de sac, or do you start to tear yourself apart.”

    Somewhat missing the point, missfitz.. with no-where to go.. what else is there to do but to call a ceasefire?.. in the Basque country and here..

    Meanwhile, there will always be those who claim that it’s part of a greater strategy..

  • abucs

    i know we will disagree on this Pete but i see the starting and ending of the Provo campaign directly related to British policy in NI.

    I think the important quest now is to leave all that behind and to have an agreed future.

  • Alan

    I get the impression that Reid’s comments on ETA needing to know who will be at the table to negotiate are the the clearest reference to contemporary Northern Ireland in the whole thing.

  • elfinto

    The main oppostition party, the Partido Popular, led by Mariano Rajoy, seem to be playing the role of the DUP. No doubt they will be demanding sackcloth and ashes before they will talk to anyone. Zapatero wil face bitter opposition from the PP in any attempt to reach a lasting peace seetlement for the Basque coutry. Thus the caution on his part.

  • missfitz

    Pete, I seem to be missing your point. Ceasefires are good aren’t they?

    I think I am trying to say that cessation of violence by ETA and the IRA has an inevitability about it. Once you remove the romantic cloak of freedom fighting or brave young nations standing up to oppressors, you start to see that there must be a status quo of some sort in order to allow life to move on. I could start a national battle here in Rostrevor (or a paper bag, some might say) and indeed get people to join my cause. We could have an insurrection and people might die (including the wrong ones, as Pearse said)

    None of it makes it right, and at some point the momentum will cease, and we all become grumpy old people together.

    My favourite example of nationalism was Key West in Florida. When I lived there (sorry Mick) in the 80’s, the residents of Key West ceded from the United States in a row over road closures. They “fought” their battle with federal agents, and indeed when they declared a ceasefire some days later, demanded several million dollars from the US government as a settlement. (they’re still waiting for that bit)

    They did all the bits right, they had a flag, a shared mythology, a common symbol and a common cause.

    Point is, you can fight any battle, but that doesnt validate it.

  • Pete Baker

    “I think I am trying to say that cessation of violence by ETA and the IRA has an inevitability about it.”

    That was indeed my point, missfitz.. but let’s not let anyone create another myth [or another romanticised cloak] for that inevitable process as it occurs.

  • missfitz

    oh good, we agree, we just didnt know it…..

  • Pete Baker

    “oh good, we agree, we just didnt know it”

    It’s often all to easy to miss that.. 😉

  • Pete,

    let’s not let anyone create another myth [or another romanticised cloak] for that inevitable process as it occurs.

    You might want to look further afield if you want to stop people creating myths. Have a butchers at this.

  • I spit on this technology of the oppressor. Why couldn’t I have said that in the Spanish media they’re referring to him as the ‘Irish Gandhi’ and left it as that?

  • Pete Baker

    I get the gist of it, Hugh.

    *shakes head*

  • Pete Baker

    Help, help, I’m being oppressed, Hugh? 😉

  • circles

    I don’t see the problem here that some of you have with Reid to be honest. Is it becaue he’s a priest, or because he now gives interviews, or because he worked in Andersonstown, or because of his stupid remarks last year?
    In Ireland Alec Reid has done a lot more for the peace process than he has done against it (try and transfer that to most of the players on the pitch). The inevitability of ceasefires breaking out is all very well, but they do not just happen – driving forces and negotiators are always needed to secure these things. And if Reid has been a driving force or negotiator again then fair play to him – whats the problem with that?

  • I don’t have anything against Alec Reid. I think he’s a good man.

  • circles

    I never said you did Hugh

  • Pete Baker

    Far be it from me to point it out, circles, but no-one commenting has said anything against Alec Reid.. the reference to “his detractors”, and the allegation of “jibes by Slugger contributors”, is exclusive to the original post by Chris.

  • mickhall

    It seems to me, unlike many practitioners of the Christian faith, Alec Reid is trying to put the ideas of Jesus Christ into practice. I feel we should rejoice in this fact. Surly it is time to put behind us the one misguided and foolish statement this man has made in a life time of otherwise exemplary behavior?

    As to ETA, I welcome there cessation of violence, as for me they were an example of an organization which was formed for all the right reasons and in its early days its soldiers showed great courage in their fight against the Franco dictatorship, but once democracy came to Spain they seemed to be like a ship without a rudder.

    Myself once the loose ends such as prisoner releases, arms, etc are tied up, I expect to see ETA’s political party gain at least 30 per cent of the vote down there. They should have stood down years ago and it has to be said without the Irish example I doubt their leadership would have been able to do so today.

    Regards to All.

  • Yokel

    Has Reidy said that the Madrid government are Nazi’s yet?

  • Mark

    The contribution made by a range of organisations (political parties, unions, and social organisations) in creating the framework for a peace process through the Democratic Agreement on Principles should not be overlooked. These organisations refused to give up on finding a peaceful way forward and have made a massive contribution to the end of violence in the Basque Country and the creation of a process for resolution.

  • Weapons of Crass Instruction

    The text of the ETA statement is available in English here.

    http://www.irishbasquecommittees.blogspot.com/

    Wouldn’t hold my breath on prisoner releases Mick.

  • “ But one who has been giving interviews at every request, missfitz…
    Not that I begrudge him that.. “Posted by Pete Baker on Mar 22, 2006 @ 11:01 PM
    Sounds like begrudgery to me. And could I ask you to explain the following two…
    “ I get the gist of it, Hugh.
    *shakes head* “
    Posted by Pete Baker on Mar 23, 2006 @ 11:17 AM
    “ Help, help, I’m being oppressed, Hugh? 😉 “
    Posted by Pete Baker on Mar 23, 2006 @ 11:24 AM

    “…exclusive to the original post by Chris. “
    Posted by Pete Baker on Mar 23, 2006 @ 11:52 AM
    …but soon followed by the begrudgery of Yokel…” Has Reidy said that the Madrid government are Nazi’s yet? “ so I conclude that Chris was merely being pre emptive.

  • Pete Baker

    “so I conclude that Chris was merely being pre emptive.”

    You can conclude what you like, Niall.. it doesn’t mean that you’re right.

    You may believe that my declared absence of begrudgery is in fact begrudged.. that’s up to you.

    But if you look again, or if anyone else does, you’ll see your references to the comments that you highlight relate to a conversation, mid-thread, with Hugh.. and not the original post.

    What happens afterwards you should take up with the individual concerned.

  • “it doesn’t mean that you’re right. “
    actually it does …you wrote that “no-one commenting has said anything against Alec Reid.. the reference to “his detractors”, and the allegation of “jibes by Slugger contributors”, is exclusive to the original post by Chris.” This was followed, as sure as night follows day, by the comments of Yokel. Therefore Chris was being pre emptive based on his knowledge of NI’s zero-sum residents who are unable to give Fr Reid his due.

    You prior comments, while not in the mode of a detractor, were in the mode of a begrudger (a stereo typical Irish trait may I add).

    Brendan Behan had a good riposte for begrudgers.

  • Pete Baker

    Niall.. no offense..

    But you ain’t no Brendan Behan.

    Just saying..

  • From now on I don’t think we should talk about anyone without giving them an Oprah-style round of applause for what they’ve done, just in case.

  • circles

    Niall – now you have to hand it to Pete.
    He didn’t actually make any derogatory remarks or even publicly begrudge anyone anything, and yet did still perfectly manage to give the impression that he did.
    OK, the *shakes head* and the “ Help, help, I’m being oppressed, Hugh? 😉 “ weren’t too subtle, but the rest was quite well done.
    And if the impression of condescension was actually not intended, well then I apologise for the mis-interpretation Pete – its obviously a product of me having been oppressed for so long.

  • Hi,

    A few points:

    1. I don’t see prisioners being released too quickly. AVT, the organisation for victims and families of victims of ETA are very strong. They will be in the streets banging the saucepans if prisioners are released. They have the (un)official backing of Rajoy and Partido Popular.

    2. A Spanish person said to me when she read about the ceasefire “funny that a group of communists take support from the church.”

    ETA know they have to come to the talks table.

    They know they do not have as much bargaining power as before.

    Does anyone think there may be a connection between the timely announcement of their ceasefire and the decision to alloow Catalonia to call itself a “nation”?

    Congrats on the blogawards success Mick.

    thanks,
    bernard

  • ” Niall.. no offense..
    But you ain’t no Brendan Behan.
    Just saying..
    Posted by Pete Baker on Mar 24, 2006 @ 12:21 AM”

    And with that double negative from the pedantic PB…I can say thanks

  • seabhac siulach

    “Has Reidy said that the Madrid government are Nazi’s yet?”

    Re Fr. Reid…

    In the positives column: 2 (count them!) successful attempts at negotiating ceasefires both here and in Spain, thus saving countless lives…

    In the negatives column: An offensive remark that he subsequently apologised for profusely…

    I say, judge the man by his actions and not by his (careless) words. To hell with the begrudgers, here is a man doing good…and it should be recognised and welcomed by all…